To better serve the city’s families in need, the Punta Gorda Housing Authority has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund the Family Self-Sufficiency coordinator position.
The one-year grant is for $53,250 and will go to the salary and benefits of that coordinator.
PGHA staff assistant Jeanie Calvert is in training to take over the position, according to Kurt Pentelecuc, PGHA executive director. Calvert was unavailable for comment at the time of this report.
“(Jeanie) already has the background for the position,” Pentelecuc said. “She can work with and move clients to better their life and incomes and get them off the FSS program and move them out of Section 8 so they can sustain self-sufficiency.”
The FSS program is a five-year, incentive-based, voluntary program that assists Section 8 families to gain financial independence and build their assets, according to the PGHA website. Section 8 is a federal rent subsidy program under HUD that provides vouchers to eligible households.
FSS coordinators work in the community, building relationships with employers and other service providers in the area. They also ensure that participants have greater access to financial education, literacy, empowerment and coaching programs.
Through those programs they can gain the knowledge and skills needed to make better decisions in reaching their goals and achieving self-sufficiency and financial stability.
“The FSS coordinator meets with our clients ... they sit down with them and establish goals and execute contracts with HUD,” Pentelecuc said. “We monitor the clients and make sure they are on the right track to achieve their goals in becoming self-sufficient.”
For each member of the program, PGHA also establishes an escrow account, according to the PGHA website. Once an eligible participant increases their “earned” income, they also increase their potential of a monthly credit that is deposited into their account. Upon successful completion of the program, the participant receives the money that has been accruing in the account.
PGHA has established a Program Coordinating Committee which is a group of social service providers and community leaders committed to supporting the mission, goals, and objectives of the FSS program and its participants.
Some of the PCC members include:
- Charlotte 2-1-1
- Charlotte Technical Center
- Comprehensive Housing Resources, Inc.
- CareerSource Southwest Florida
- The Baker Center
- Charlotte County Homeless Coalition
- Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Heartland
- Florida Department of Health
- Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida
- Habitat for Humanity
“It’s important (that we) improve our family self-sufficient services to residents to get them off of assistance with HUD so they can become self-sufficient,” Pentelecuc said.